Our second installment in our 'Meet' series, in which we interview and showcase some of the incredibly talented blacksmiths, leather smiths, woodworkers, etc., that we have the pleasure of working with.
As much as we are clearly a Japanese-focused shop, we still love to support our local artisans.
Meet Ted Lawes, owner of Ted Tables, based out of Port Perry, Ontario.
KNIFE: You obviously make incredible wood products for us, but that isn't all you do, right?
Ted: I have been making end-grain cutting boards for a few years, but I was building custom wood and metal furniture and home decor for a few years before that. In 2011, I built my first table and have gladly taken on many custom requests and commissions since then.
K: How did you get started? What was your inspiration in doing what you do?
T: I've always liked building and creating things that will be used and enjoyed by others. Growing up in a mall town, I had all the time in the world to experiment with building things; from miniature catapults and trebuchets, to large skateboard ramps and tree houses, to entire snowboard parks with rails and overly complex snake runs in my back yard. I went to school for mechanical engineering, but wasn't getting the fulfillment of making something with my hands. I was looking for that satisfaction in a career. I decided to work 12 hour outdoor night shifts through the winters making snow nine months of the year, and spent the remainder learning, and relearning, what I had done in high school shop classes. I went to college to become a TSSA certified tig welder, which expanded my building abilities from casual woodworking to metal working and fine woodworking. I've used the last eight years learning and building wildly different custom projects brought to me by clients, and honing my abilities on personal projects.
K: What's your number one, favourite part of what you do?
T: When I'm starting projects, taking the rough sawn lumber and running it through the planer or resawing the wood is always a very satisfying part of woodworking. Peeling away the rough and dull exterior to reveal the hidden grain and figure of wood is a tough shop experience to match in excitement. With metal work, the planning is always enjoyable. Designing, drafting and calculations are a fun, as well.
K: What do you think are the three most important characteristics in a true artisan?
T: A passion for what you're doing, caring more about the outcome than the amount of work to get there, and the ability to take on new and challenging aspects of your work. I've always looked up to people that are doing what they enjoy and it always shows through their work.
K: What is your favourite thing to eat? What is your favourite thing to cook?
T: I will cook and eat a very large steak as often as possible. Through the summers, our home garden is full of fresh veggies and it's always an incredible meal to pick from the front garden and throw it on the barbecue alongside a 50 oz steak.
K: What's your go-to knife in the kitchen and why?
T: I always use a chefs knife or utility knife. My parents gave me a few knives when we moved into our home, which have been such great knives. I had never though about upgrading until visiting your shop for the first time!
K: If you weren't doing the job you are now, what would you be doing instead?
T: I would be outside for 12 hours a night in the winter and working a welding/fabrication job through the summer.
K: As someone who hand makes custom products in an age of big industry and fast production, where do you see small businesses like yourself in the future?
T: There's always going to be people who prefer quality handmade items to a cheaply made product. Ben Franklin said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
K: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
T: Anywhere with a lake or stream would be good for me. We are lucky enough to live near cottage country and in a short drive we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of provincial parks.
K: If you could have dinner and drinks with anybody famous, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
T: Gord Downie would be a pretty great guy to chat with over a meal.
K: What was the last song/artist you listened to?
T: Aquarium by Nosaj Thing was the last song I listened to. A Christmas song in a shop was the last and current song repeating in my head, though!
Ted's boards are the perfect balance of beauty and functionality, and it's for this reason that we continue to love his products.
To see more of Ted's incredible work, check him out at his website .
Thanks for reading,